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Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda

Comments by Ambassador May-Elin Stener on the Secretary-General’s report on Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, 22 January 2018.

Let me first take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his report on repositioning of the UN development system as well as for his newly released annual report on implementation of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

Our overall reaction is that the reform proposals of the Secretary-General point in the right direction. However, there are some issues where we would like to seek some further clarification. And there are some issues where we are concerned about the level of ambition compared to the provisions and expectations in the QCPR.

Let me highlight four issues:

A reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system

First: Norway is a strong supporter of a strengthened Resident Coordinator system. We hence agree with the recommendation to split the present dual function of UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. What this will mean for the future role of UNDP is however not fully clear to us.

Furthermore, we are not fully convinced that the recommendations of the Secretary-General will lead to a Resident Coordinator with “sufficient leadership and prerogative over the UN country team”, as asked for in the QCPR. An independent Resident Coordinator with authority is key to ensure that host countries will be supported in a coherent, integrated, efficient and effective manner.

2. Human rights, gender equality and Leaving No One Behind

Second: Effective integration of human rights and gender equality in a repositioned UN development system is critical in order to strengthen its ability to prevent conflict, enhance results and support member states in leaving no one behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

We hence need to ensure that a new generation of country teams will have the capacity to provide normative support. The suggested standard staffing does not seem to include gender experts, human rights advisors or peace and development advisors. How can we be confident that such expertise can be provided when needed? And how will organizations with normative mandates be represented in the new UN country teams?

3. Funding Compact

Third: We welcome the Secretary General’s idea of a funding compact. We will not get the UN development system we want if we do not change the way we fund it. We need to overcome the present mismatch between what we expect from the system and the way we fund it. A funding compact should provide incentives for the system to deliver more coherent, efficiently and effectively in the field.

Member states have long since agreed that preferred funding modalities are core contributions and thematic funding to individual agencies combined with inter-agency funding mechanisms. Unfortunately, actual funding trends are moving in the opposite direction.

The specific commitments on both sides need to be discussed further, and we look forward to the upcoming funding dialogue under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary General. Diversifying the donor base and improved burden sharing must be part of the discussion.

4. Internal accountability

And finally: Norway fully shares the view of the Secretary-General that the various aspects of reform are interconnected and in that sense constitute a package.

Enhanced transparency and accountability are major expectations in the QCPR. We believe that insufficient internal accountability in the UN could be one reason why previous reform efforts have not moved faster or led to more tangible results. Strengthened accountability between the Secretary-General and senior managers should therefore be part of the package.

Thank you.